News / Arts & Entertainment

March 20 Marks International Day of Happiness

File photo taken in Battambang province, Cambodia. (Courtesy Childfund.org)
File photo taken in Battambang province, Cambodia. (Courtesy Childfund.org)
Faiza Elmasry
In the Kingdom of Bhutan, the measure of the quality of life is expressed as the GNH: the gross national happiness. In 2012, the tiny Himalayan nation persuaded the U.N. General Assembly to establish the International Day of Happiness. It is a formal opportunity to consider what makes us happy.

The emotion is so important to our well-being that America's founding fathers considered the pursuit of happiness to be a God-given right.

What is happiness? We know it when we feel it, but there is no simple way to define it, says Joseph Panetta, spokesman for Live Happy magazine. However, he adds, there are certain components to happiness.

“Those things include positive relationships, a positive outlook," he said. "They include engagement, being engaged in your community and the things that are going on around you...Meaning is probably the most important thing. When someone feels that what they’re doing has a real meaning behind it, that’s greater than themselves, they gain a much more positive feeling from doing it.”

Being happy, he says, is essential for our health.

“We know from a scientific perspective that human beings are hardwired to perform their best when happy," he said. "People with positive and optimistic mindset earn higher incomes, they set and achieve more aggressive goals, have less stress. They are more energetic. They also recover from illnesses faster and, interestingly, they live longer.”

Filmmaker Adam Shell considers himself a happy person.

“I’ve always had a high baseline for happiness and my default goes back to happy and content," Shell said. "I like to laugh a lot and for me that’s one of my priorities in life.”

Shell has traveled across America, searching for genuinely happy people for his documentary, Pursuing Happiness.

“What we did is just reached out to everybody we knew along that route and said, ‘Who’s the happiest person you know?' And we got amazing responses," he said.

They found more than 360 happy people.

“We’ve interviewed people like in their 90s; we actually have a woman who is 104. We’ve also interviewed people who are two, barely able to talk but they have a perspective on happiness, and everything in between.”

Shell says those people didn’t let life’s challenges take away their happiness.

“There is this one gentleman who lives in Cincinnati, Ohio," Shell said. "He lost both his hands from elbow down in an electrical accident almost 25 years ago. Then, he lost his wife to cancer and had to raise his daughter on his own. This is a guy who it seems like everything that could go wrong in his life was going wrong. The entire time he was going through this, he maintained such high standards of attitude and emotion. He was always happy. He was always cracking jokes and seeing the lighter side of life.”

People, he says, are not happy because they are successful; they succeed because they are happy.

“Life is difficult in any way you slice it, no matter where you live, how you live," Shell said. "And I think it’s all about attitude. It’s how you look at the world. And when something bad happens, yeah you have to go through that; the negative emotions, the fear, the loss and the pain. None of the people we’ve interviewed has denied those emotions, but it's how you turn those around and saying, 'OK, I went through that, that happened, now want to get back to me. Now I get back to the way I want to be in life.'” 

Shell will screen segments from his documentary in New York on March 20, the International Day of Happiness, to encourage people to focus on what makes them happy.

That is also the goal behind the “Acts of Happiness" campaign by Live Happy magazine, says Joseph Panetta.

“The Acts of Happiness campaign will actually bring walls of happiness to major metropolitan cities all across the country. And these walls of happiness are meant for people to go there and write on them their acts of happiness, what they do to share and spread happiness in the world," Panetta said. "Happiness grows when you share it, when you spread it. If it’s not a city where there is a wall located, they can go to the website; actsofhappiness.org, there is a virtual wall and they can share and celebrate their acts of happiness.”

After all, he says, happiness is contagious, and you can celebrate it every day of the year.

You May Like

Missouri Town Braces for Possible Racial Unrest

Situation in Ferguson hinges on whether white police officer will be indicted for August shooting death of unarmed black teen; decision could come Monday More

Video Ukraine Marks Anniversary of 1930s Deadly Famine

President Poroshenko compares Soviet-era ‘genocide’ to current tactics of pro-Russia rebels in Ukraine's east More

S. Philippines Convictions Elusive 5 Years After Election-related Killings

Officials vowed to deliver justice as the nation marked the anniversary of the country's worst political massacre that left 58 dead, more than half media More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Ukraine Marks Anniversary of Deadly 1930s Faminei
X
Daniel Schearf
November 23, 2014 4:32 PM
During a commemoration for millions who died of starvation in Ukraine in the early 1930s, President Petro Poroshenko lashed out at Soviet-era totalitarianism for causing the deaths and accused today’s Russian-backed rebels in the east of using similar tactics. VOA’s Daniel Shearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Ukraine Marks Anniversary of Deadly 1930s Famine

During a commemoration for millions who died of starvation in Ukraine in the early 1930s, President Petro Poroshenko lashed out at Soviet-era totalitarianism for causing the deaths and accused today’s Russian-backed rebels in the east of using similar tactics. VOA’s Daniel Shearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests at a Crossroads

New public opinion polls in Hong Kong indicate declining support for pro-democracy demonstrations after weeks of street protests. VOA’s Bill Ide in Guangzhou and Pros Laput in Hong Kong spoke with protesters and observers about whether demonstrators have been too aggressive in pushing for change.
Video

Video Law Enforcement, Activists in Ferguson Agree to Keep Peace

Authorities in Ferguson, Missouri, say they have agreed with protest leaders to maintain peace when a grand jury reaches its decision on whether to indict a white police officer in the shooting death of a black teenager. Ferguson, a suburb of St. Louis, has been the scene of intermittent violence since the August 9 shooting intensified long-simmering antagonism between the police and the African-American community. VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video US Immigration Relief Imminent for Mixed-Status Families

Tens of thousands of undocumented immigrants in the Washington, D.C., area may benefit from a controversial presidential order announced this week. It's not a path to citizenship, as some activists hoped. But it will allow more immigrants who arrived as children or who have citizen children, to avoid deportation and work legally. VOA's Victoria Macchi talks with one young man who benefited from an earlier presidential order, and whose parents may now benefit after years of living in fear.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.
Video

Video Tensions Build on Korean Peninsula Amid Military Drills

It has been another tense week on the Korean peninsula as Pyongyang threatened to again test nuclear weapons while the U.S. and South Korean forces held joint military exercises in a show of force. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from the Kunsan Air Base in South Korea.
Video

Video Mama Sarah Obama Honored at UN Women’s Entrepreneurship Day

President Barack Obama's step-grandmother is in the United States to raise money to build a $12 million school and hospital center in Kogelo, Kenya, the birthplace of the president's father, Barack Obama, Sr. She was honored for her decades of work to aid poor Kenyans at a Women's Entrepreneurship Day at the United Nations.
Video

Video Gay Evangelicals Argue That Bible Does Not Condemn Homosexuality

More than 30 U.S. states now recognize same-sex marriages, and an increasing number of mainline American churches are blessing them. But evangelical church members- which account for around 30 percent of the U.S. adult population - believe the Bible unequivocally condemns homosexuality. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports that gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender evangelicals are coming out. Backed by a prominent evangelical scholar, they argue that the traditional reading of the bible is wrong.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid

New in Music Alley

Soul Lounge

Avery Sunshine is known for her irresistible combination of soul, jazz and gospel influences. She’s traveled the world entertaining audiences with her powerful voice, inspiring lyrics and infectious spirit. She joins host Shawna Renee on "The Soul Lounge" to perform and share the stories behind her new album, "The Sun Room."